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Hanna (2011) Review

Review; Oct. 14, 2011; Channels: Movies; By Kyle James Hovanec
Grimm fairy tales meet spy fiction

Fairy tales and global espionage are something that usually don't go in hand in hand, much less sound like a good idea, but they can turn out pretty decent in the end if the script, pacing, and acting are well done. An idea that sounds stupidly laughable on paper suddenly becomes an entertaining flick.


Hanna isn't strictly a fairy tale movie that deals with espionage. There aren't any Grimm characters spying on terrorist encampments. Instead it's the style -- the classic hero's journey given that extra fairy tale kick. Young Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan) and her ex-CIA agent father Eric (played by Eric Bana) live alone in the woods of Finland (complete with a “Once Upon a Time” beginning), going about their daily routine of hunting, tracking, and training. Hanna is no ordinary girl; she's been trained from childhood to be the ultimate assassin, able to kill enemies twice her age and size and survive alone for days without aid. This is all done for a reason, as Eric wants revenge on CIA handler Marissa Ziegler (played by Cate Blanchett) who, after learning about their existence, sends her squad of hitmen out to silence them both and prevent them from learning the truth about Hanna's origin and the role Eric and Marissa played along the way.

From here, Hanna is on her own, traveling through Europewith only a single location provided by her father. Along the way, she runs into a traveling family, and after spending a few days with them, she learns more about living with other humans, especially about living with a family she never had. Of course, this doesn't go as planned, and she also dispatches agents sent after her in her journey to the final location, Marissa, and the truth behind everything.

Hanna Stills
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Director Joe Wright (Atonement) does an excellent job shooting and directing the scenes and giving the entire movie a storybook feel. For what could have been a series of shots in gray-skied, stark white government bases and a story that could have easily been The Bourne Identity with a little girl, is really anything but. The locations all seem to have a hazy, tone to them, swirling with colors, flashing lights, and soft hues. It's a clever way to show the audience how Hanna sees the world, as a strange fairytale land that is both enticing and dangerous. Even the government agents seem more at home with their fairy tale tropes. Blanchett succeeds in playing the evil stepmother who wants nothing more than to impede the girl's journey in between shouting orders to CIA lackeys and talking about secret government projects.

Along with the excellent camera work, the music score by the Chemical Brothers is equally fantastic. Flip-flopping between whimsical xylophone tunes to throbbing techno beats, the score matches the scenes perfectly and helps to add to the dynamic and kinetic pacing.

While Bana and Blanchett do the by-the-numbers acting with Bana playing an older guardian figure and Blanchett chewing up the scenery as a wicked-witch CIA agent, it's Ronan who deserves the most credit. The amount of naïveté about the simplest things in the world is shown not only through her dialog but her actions. She shows a vulnerable side that contrasts against her swift and violent acts.

Hanna is an unusual but very fun flick. If you're in the mood for something a little different that the normal kiss-kiss, bang-bang seen in most spy flicks, this is one worth checking out. 


Review Score

Parents Strongly Cautioned

A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them. A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category. The theme of the motion picture by itself will not result in a rating greater than PG-13, although depictions of activities related to a mature theme may result in a restricted rating for the motion picture. Any drug use will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. More than brief nudity will require at least a PG-13 rating, but such nudity in a PG-13 rated motion picture generally will not be sexually oriented. There may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 movie, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence. A motion picture's single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context. The Rating Board nevertheless may rate such a motion picture PG-13 if, based on a special vote by a two-thirds majority, the Raters feel that most American parents would believe that a PG-13 rating is appropriate because of the context or manner in which the words are used or because the use of those words in the motion picture is inconspicuous.

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